Skiing, Skydiving and Safari: Dubai's 10 Best Activities for Thrillseekers

Photo by shahramuae/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

by Sarah Hedley-Hymers, The Telegraph, February 6, 2019

From walking on water to being catapulted out to sea in a human slingshot, the emirate’s spectrum of sports and activities is designed to give you an adrenalin rush. So, get off your sun lounger and have a go – if you think you’re brave enough.

1. Zip through Dubai Marina

See Dubai Marina like you’ve never seen it before – from a bird’s eye perspective – by whizzing down the XLine.

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It’s probably not for you if you’re afraid of heights; this zipline’s launch platform is 558ft high and at more than half a mile (800m) in length, it’s the longest urban zip line in the world.

Zipliners travel at speeds of up to 37mph from Amwaj Towers to Dubai Marina Mall, passing the famous twisted Cayan Tower on the way. 

XLine (00971 4 346 0003; xdubai.com/experiences), Dubai Marina. From AED650 (£137) per person.

2. Tree-surf through nature 

According to a recent study by the University of Regina in the United States, spending just five minutes in the great outdoors can reduce stress and create feelings of well-being. Just think what three hours’ surfing through trees could do – then get yourself along to Aventura.

Dubai’s only treetop playground, laced with rope courses and ziplines, is set in the midst of a natural ghaf tree forest. The drought-tolerant species became the national tree of the UAE in 2008, making it the most politically correct greenery around. 

Aventura (00971 52 178 7616; aventuraparks.com), Mushrif Park. From AED133.33 (£28) per person.

3. Get a jump on parkour 

Born of military obstacle course training, parkour is the art of quickly traversing challenging terrains using the force of one’s own body. The aim is to hurdle, climb and jump from A to B with the grace of Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible. This pursuit has become an art form as gymnastic jumpers have recorded their endeavours against edgy urban backdrops and loaded their films to YouTube. Needless to say, Dubai has a dedicated parkour training facility. 

Parkour DXB (00971 58 982 1251; parkour.ae), Al Quoz. From AED130 (£27) per person for a drop-in class.

4. Jump out of a plane 

If you’re the sort of person who finds falling through the sky at speeds of more than 120mph fun, then Skydive Dubai will suit you just fine. No previous experience is required as novice daredevils are securely attached to an instructor for tandem jumps. You just need to smile for the camera. (In addition to your strap-on chaperone, a “camera flier” will join you to record your stunt.) When you see yourself floating over the unmistakable outline of Palm Jumeirah, you may be glad they did. 

Skydive Dubai (00971 4 377 8888; skydivedubai.ae), Mina Seyahi. From AED2,199 (£459) per person for a tandem skydive with an instructor, plus photos and video.

5. Walk on water 

The latest watersports sensation making a splash in Dubai is jetboarding. Your feet are placed in wakeboard-like boots and locked on to a jetboard attached via a long hose to a personal watercraft that powers the board; its rider is the instructor. Reaching heights of more than 30ft above water, boarders claim the distance feels like twice that. Those who laugh in the face of vertigo should book an introductory lesson at Searide Dubai. Franky Zapata, the inventor of the Flyboard and the Hoverboard, is a regular there. They’ll have you walking on water within an hour. 

Searide Dubai (00971 55 157 8393; searide-dubai.com), Jumeirah 1 Fishing Harbour. From AED315 (£66) per person.

6. Ski in the desert

Skiing on real snow in a desert emirate that’s never even seen a white Christmas is a novelty that never gets old – but it does get cold, so pack warm attire if you’re planning on trying this one. Ski trousers, jackets, boots, helmets and skis or boards are provided, but pom-pom hats are not. Slope access is available to intermediate level two skiers and boarders, and ski school is open to all. Pop in and see the resident gentoo and king penguins while you’re there. 

Ski Dubai (00971 4 800 386; skidxb.com), Mall of the Emirates. From AED200 (£42) per adult and AED170 (£36) per child for a two-hour slope pass, AED315 for a 60-minute lesson.

7. Play polo on a thoroughbred

Polo is a national obsession in Dubai. Discover the three fundamentals of the sport – riding, hitting the ball and knowing the rules – while atop a world-famous Arabian thoroughbred at Dubai Polo Academy. The academy was founded by professional player Steve Thompson, an authority on the sport and author of How to Look Cool Whilst Learning Polo. This centre is recognised worldwide for its expert tuition. 

Dubai Polo Academy (00971 50 887 9847; dubaipoloacademy.com), Dubai Studio City. From AED890 per person for a 60-minute introductory lesson.

8. Spin in a 4x4 on safari 

Dune bashing is not for those who suffer from motion sickness. Strapped into the back of a 4x4 with only a standard seat belt for security, passengers are driven by experts across sand dunes that rise as high as 330ft. With sand clouding the car windows, it feels a little like being inside a cocktail shaker. The reward at the end of the drive is a Middle Eastern tourist activity smorgasbord; at a Bedouin-style camp, guests are introduced to henna hand painting, falconry, camel rides, sandboarding, belly dancing and a banquet of local cuisine. If you only have one day in Dubai, do this. 

Arabian Adventures (00971 56 999 4901; arabian-adventures.com), hotel pickups provided. From AED395 (£83) per person.

9. Go ballistic in a human catapult 

The XDubai Slingshot, a catapult inspired by the original stone-slinging weapon, hurls brave tourists towards the sea from a huge Y-shaped frame set on Kite Beach. Secured in a harness, the projectile (you) is pulled back, then propelled forward before springing safely back to shore. Prepare to be propelled 400ft over sand and water at speeds of more than 60mph. Picture a horizontal bungee jump and you’re in the right ballpark. 

XLine (00971 4 346 0003; xdubai.com/experiences), Kite Beach. From AED280 (£59) per person.

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10. Paddleboard around Burj Al Arab

Not all activities have to be fast and furious, and few are more soothing than gliding around Burj Al Arab on a stand-up paddleboard, which is arguably the best way to appreciate the architecture of this iconic sail-shaped hotel. Training is given, along with life jackets, though falls are rare. If you do lose your balance, the water is warm and calm – so the experience is not unpleasant. 

Kite n’ Surf (00971 55 800 6363; kitensurf.ae), Nessnass Beach. From AED400 (£84) per person.

What thrill seeking activity would you sign-up for? Tell us in the comment section below.

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This article was written by Sarah Hedley-Hymers from The Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected]

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